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Whenever I get an email pressing the need for more tort reform, that need is demonstrated by some preposterous lawsuit – the armed robber who sues the convenience store for slipping on a spilled drink during his heist or fat guy that sues McFriendly’s for raising his cholesterol. What those emails don’t tell you is the truth. The armed robber filed the suit from his prison cell without a lawyer and the fat guy’s case was dismissed and he and his lawyer were sanctioned. Sometimes they go further – lawsuits that never even happened.

Whatever, you might say – there are frivolous lawsuits filed and many are filed by lawyers. Of course there are. Lawyers are people. Some people are good and earnest. Some people are idiots and greedy. Like every other job market out there, the law has both. That being the case, the drafters of the rules of civil procedure – themselves lawyers – have rules for frivolous lawsuits. Though they should be enforced, most judges who are called upon to do so are hesitant to do so because they are elected officials. Appointing judges in accordance with the Missouri Plan would be a good start.

Step number two would be getting those judges to enforce the rules already in place – with the local and state bar associations backing them up. But the enforcement needs to be uniform. Hospitals, insurance companies and the mortgage industry file the lion’s share of civil cases – many of which have no merit. As long as the rules are the same for everyone, our firm is on board.


  1. Gravatar for Steve Lombardi

    Pete, I always enjoy reading what you write. Nicely stated. There are frivolous charges for accounting, frivolous investments, frivolous surgeries and frivolous just about everything, but the amount of attention given to a few lawsuits filed by the few is like talking about a disease that was long ago cured. The Chamber seems to think it's important enough to continue to talk about, but for some reason the Chamber doesn't want to talk about toys imported from China with lead based paint or babies milk with melamine or to disclose where the Chamber receives its funding and if any comes from the CCP, the Chinese Communist Party, the same CCP that controls Chinese businesses that the Chamber is so fond of cheerleading for. Perhaps that’s because the CCP and the Chamber consider the brains and kidneys of American babies to be frivolous.

  2. There is also the high number of frivolous defenses that are offered. We had a case here in Minnesota last week where the defense admitted fault for the first time in their closing. They never talk about that.

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